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Cross-platform mobile frameworks help application developers achieve better development results. A growing number of developers are now opting for cross-platform technologies and preferring them to native technologies. Two of the most popular cross-platform frameworks today are React Native and Flutter. These two platforms offer various features and excellent benefits. To choose the most suitable option, consider the advantages of  Flutter and React Native. Then, read on to learn more about each of them.

Here is a summary of what you will learn from reading this article:

Overview of the cross-platform mobile framework

  • Flutter

    • Overview
    • The best use case for using Flutter
    • When not to use Flutter?
    • The most famous Flutter apps
    • The advantages of Flutter
    • The disadvantages of Flutter
    • Overview of Flutter
  • React Native

    • Overview
    • Best use cases for using React-Native
    • When not to use React-Native?
    • The most famous React-Native apps
    • The advantages of React Native
    • The disadvantages of React Native
  • Comparison between Flutter and React Native

    • Similarities
    • Comparative table
    • Notoriety
    • Programming language
    • Productivity
    • Performance
    • Learning curve
    • User interface
    • Continuous integration and delivery
    • Publication on Google Play and App Store

What is a cross-platform mobile framework?

Cross-platform application development frameworks allow mobile applications that run on multiple operating systems like Android and iOS. This type of framework will enable users to write code once and run it on various platforms. A cross-platform application development platform allows developers to get faster and better software releases.

Why use a cross-platform framework?

  • Faster time to market  – Hybrid applications have a quicker time to market. Developers can deploy applications faster with this type of framework. 
  • Lower Costs  – Developers can achieve more significant savings by using a cross-platform framework. Reducing the effort and time required also helps reduce development costs. 
  • Better code reuse  – Cross-platform mobile application development allows developers to use a single code base for different applications and operating systems. Using the same code base makes maintaining and revising a code base more convenient. 
  • A near-native experience  – The features of the backend and the functionality of hybrid apps are pretty similar. So you can speed up development and keep the same UX for end-users. 

What is Flutter?

Flutter is Google’s open-source UI Toolkit for developing natively compiled applications. It currently offers users the ability to collect apps for the web, iOS, Android, Linux, Windows, Mac, and Google Fuschia.  

The first version of Flutter, known as “Sky,” ran on the Android operating system. It was presented at the 2015 Dart Developer Summit as a solution that can render at 120 fps. The Flutter Release Preview 2 was announced by Google during the Google Developer Days in Shanghai. This is the last major version of Flutter before Flutter 1.0. The Flutter Live event on December 4, 2018, saw the launch of Flutter 1.0. Flutter 1.12 was released at a Flutter Interactive event on December 11, 2019. 

Flutter version 1.17.0 and Dart SFK version 2.8 were released on May 6, 2020. Metal API support was added to this version. This feature has significantly improved the performance of iOS devices, offering new Material widgets, network tracking tools, and more. 

The Architecture of Flutter

The main components of Flutter include the Dart programming language, the Flutter engine, and the Foundation library.

The Dart programming language

Flutter applications are developed with the Dart programming language. It uses many of the more advanced features of this language. Flutter runs on the Dart virtual machine, a runtime engine, under macOS, Linux, Windows, and the Flutter Desktop Embedding project. 

Flutter uses the JIT comparison during the writing and debugging processes of an application. It enables reloading to allow users to incorporate changes from the source file into a running application. In addition, Flutter extends support for reloading widgets. Finally, it will enable changes to the source code to be passed on to running applications without losing state or the need for a restart. 

Versions of the Flutter app are compiled using the first version (AOT) on iOS and Android. Thus, it helps to achieve high performance of the frame on mobile devices. 

The Flutter engine

The Flutter engine, primarily written in C ++, offers low-level rendering thanks to Google’s Skia graphics library. Additionally, it can interface with platform-specific SDKs, like those provided by iOS and Android. The Flutter Engine is a portable runtime for hosting Flutter applications. The engine implements Flutter libraries such as file and network I / O, animation and graphics, architecture, accessibility support, and several Dart runtime and builds components. Most developers use the Flutter Framework to interact with Flutter. The Flutter framework offers responsive structure as well as layout, foundation, and platform widgets. 

Foundation Library

The Foundation library, written in Dart, provides many fundamental functions and classes used to build Flutter applications, including APIs that facilitate communication with the engine. 

The library also contains design-specific widgets with Android and iOS implementations.  

The Flutter framework has two sets of widgets that correspond to specific design languages. For example, material Design widgets create implementations of Google’s visual identity, while Cupertino widgets implement Apple’s human interface guidelines for iOS. 

The best use case for Flutter

  • Flutter is a suitable solution for iteration thanks to its reload function and several built-in native tools.
  • Flutter allows users to create an MVP without delay.
  • It is also considered an appropriate choice for UI-centric applications. 

When not to use Flutter?

  • An application needs to provide support for 3D Touch.
  • When an application requires a platform-centric design
  • The application needs several interactions with the operating system or requires rare native libraries.

Popular Flutter Apps

  • Ali Baba
  • Google ads
  • Tencent

The advantages of Flutter

Access to native features  – Platform-specific features, such as geolocation and camera, require access to native features. These functions must be implemented through native codes. Flutter gives its users the feeling of developing a native platform. They can easily reuse their Swift, Java, and Objective-C code to access SDKs and native features on Android and iOS. 

Similar to native app performance – App performance is an essential factor in providing a good user experience. The level of performance offered by Flutter is generally comparable to that of native applications and sophisticated user interface animations. Flutter does not rely on representations or interpretations of intermediate codes. Instead, a Flutter application is integrated directly into the machine code, thus reducing performance bugs during the interpretation process.

Reloading  – Reloading is one of the most vital features of Flutter. It allows developers to observe any changes they have made to the code without delay. Changes are visible in just seconds, making it easy for developers to increase functionality, fix bugs, and experiment. In addition, reloading facilitates better collaboration between developers and app designers while instantly testing app appearance. 

Less Code  – Flutter was written primarily in the Dart programming language. Dart is a strongly typed object-oriented language. Flutter is similar to React Native and has a responsive and declarative programming style. Flutter does not require a JavaScript bridge to improve startup times and application performance. Dart offers the AOT compilation, as well as the Just-in-Time compilation. Flutter leverages JIT compilation to improve the development flow. It makes it easier to hot reload and refresh the UI during development without creating a new full version. 

Own Display Engine  – Flutter empowers developers to do more than any other platform. It gives favourable results with powerful frameworks, such as a powerful cross-platform renderer. Flutter uses Skia for self-representation on a platform infrastructure. Its engine allows the user interface created by Flutter to be launched on any virtual platform. Flutter users do not need to adjust the UI for platform transfer to simplify development.

The disadvantages of Flutter

  • New framework:  Flutter is considered an immature framework and is not entirely stable. It has some issues and does not have features to use all the capabilities of the operating system. Some features are not currently supported, and several pre-alpha libraries. It can be quite restrictive for some development projects. 
  • Dart Language:  Dart is also considered immature compared to options like Kotlin, Javascript, and Swift. It has fewer features, and the current features are not as polished. 

What is React Native?

React Native is a JavaScript library from Facebook. It is used for native application development for iOS and Android systems. 

Story

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg remarked in 2012 that the company should start focusing on native language rather than HTML5. It was the concept behind React Native when Facebook began to creating a mobile offering. Jordan Walke generated UI elements for iOS from a background JavaScript thread. A hackathon was organized to improve the prototype to develop native applications. Facebook launched the first version of React in 2015.

Implementation

React Native has the same operating principles as ReactJs. However, React Native does not use the virtual DOM to manipulate the DOM. Instead, react Native runs in a background process that directly interprets user-created JavaScript on a terminal device. It uses serialization to communicate with a native platform. React Native does not rely on HTML. Instead, it uses JSX syntax and pure JavaScript.

The best use case for React Native

  • React Native is a professional tool for developing complex cross-platform applications.
  • It is best suited to a project that is expansive and deeply rooted.
  • React Native offers extensive documentation and enhanced support.
  • It is helpful for developers who intend to reuse code for desktop applications and web applications. 

When not to use React-Native?

  • Bluetooth communication is required.
  • Small apps (React-Native apps are more significant than native apps)
  • Single OS projects

Popular React Native Apps

  • Facebook
  • Walmart
  • Bloomberg

The advantages of React Native

High performance  – React Native is useful for improving application performance through modules and native control. React Native connects to native components of both operating systems. In addition, it creates code for native APIs without restriction. 

Release App Updates Faster  – React Native streamlines the process of updating requests. As a result, it dramatically reduces the time it takes to release updates and the need to perform build processes separately. 

Modular architecture  – The modular programming function separates functions into different interchangeable blocks, called modules. React Native’s modular architecture helps developers update apps at a rapid pace. In addition, modules can be reused, just like web and mobile API code.

Improve an existing app  – Existing apps can be enhanced using React Native. Its UI components can be inserted into a current application without having to rewrite it.

View Changes Immediately  – React Native’s reload or live reload feature allows developers to instantly and simultaneously view code changes in a separate live preview window. It makes it easier for developers because they get real-time feedback.

Live Updates:  React Native allows simultaneous application updates faster. Developers can use OTA (Over the Air) updates for apps even when the app is in use. The update can be prepared for use the next time the application is launched. Users of these apps can easily avoid having to download app updates through Android or Apple app stores. 

The disadvantages of React Native

  • It would help if you still had native developers;
  • Some elements are still missing;
  • Believe it or not, it’s still in beta.

Flutter vs. React Native | Similarities

We are going to compare Flutter and React Native. Let’s start with the similarities of the two frameworks.

  • Both are cross-platform frameworks.
  • Open-source
  • Reloading
  • Native experience

 Flutter vs. React Native | Comparison

The table below gives you an overview of the two frameworks.

Flutter React-Native Remarks
Supported by Google Facebook
Release date May 2017 March 2015 React-Native is a more mature framework.
Programming language Dart Javascript JavaScript is a more popular choice.
Learning curve Weak Weak React-Native may be easier to learn if you already know JavaScript.
Multiplatform  Yes Yes
Hot Reload Yes Yes
Open-source Yes Yes
Documentation Yes Yes
Architecture Skia Flux
CI / CD Official Documentation Not available on official documents
Github repository Flutter React Native
Github Stars / Forks 102k / 14.2k 90k / 20k

 Now, let’s take a closer look at the differences between the two frameworks.

What is the most used cross-platform framework? Flutter or React Native?

To answer this question, I will compare data from Google Trends, Statista, and Github.

Google Trends

According to Google Trends, Flutter is the most widely used language, followed by React Native, for the development of cross-platform mobile applications in 2020. 

flutter-vs-react-native-google-trends-2

Statista

According to  Statista, React Native is still the most used framework with 42%. However, Flutter is quite close at 39% and saw a more significant increase between 2019 and 2020.

Statista

Github

Another essential source to compare the popularity of Flutter and React Native is GitHub. Flutter leads the race here with 102,000 stars, but React Native is pretty close with 90,000 stars. Considering that Flutter’s initial release was in 2017 (versus 2015 for React Native), it looks like Flutter is gaining popularity faster, according to Github data. 

So in terms of popularity, the two frameworks have a similar breakthrough with developers, and you will be able to find adequate community support on any of these two platforms.

Dart vs. Javascript | What is the best option?

The programming language is the most crucial difference between Flutter and React Native. Therefore, it will strongly affect your decision towards React Native in case you are already familiar with JavaScript. Otherwise, if you are new to JavaScript, learning Dart may be more accessible.

Flutter uses the Dart programming language released by Google in 2011. It is not used too often by developers. But Dart’s syntax is easily understood by Java and JavaScript developers because it conforms to many object-oriented principles. 

React Native uses  JavaScript to build cross-platform apps. Developers use JavaScript extensively in the community. It is used with several popular JavaScript frameworks, including React. Thus, it allows developers to create mobile applications without extensive training. That is why many organizations have been able to adapt to React Native. JavaScript being a dynamic typing language, is more open to positive and negative results.

What is the most productive framework?

Code better, faster! This is the ultimate goal of every developer and let’s analyze how Flutter and React Native behave in terms of productivity.

Reload:  The reload feature allows application development companies to quickly change the backend and view code changes without saving a file. React Native and Flutter support this feature to help developers achieve maximum efficiency. Both frameworks provide this functionality and allow developers to save time when testing user interface changes. The productivity is about the same in this regard.

IDE: React Native is a clear winner in this area. Developers can use any IDE or text editor with React Native. Dart is not a popular language, and there aren’t many text editors and IDEs. 

Programming language  Developers with a background in JavaScript can easily use React Native for developing cross-platform applications. Flutter users can quickly get started with the demo app. But the increasing complexity of applications requires developers to integrate new concepts of Flutter.

Project Setup:  Flutter provides an informative getting started guide for Android and iOS platforms. Users can easily find instructions for the macOS platform as well. Flutter also provides a CLI tool called flutter doctor to make the setup process easier for developers. A React Native project assumes that a developer has all the installation files required for Android and iOS development. 

Community support:  The more committed developers there are, the more productive the community will be. Flutter and React Native are both on the same level when it comes to community. Both frameworks have extensive, well-written documentation and massive open-source communities.

What about performance?

Here is a summary of the difference in terms of performance for the two executives. I got this information in the article called “In-depth performance comparison. ” They did a great job comparing the frameworks; you should read this article for a compelling comparison.

Flutter:

Flutter is especially useful for developers who create applications with heavy animations. It offers higher performance and a lot of alternatives.

React-Native:

React Native is not suitable for CPU intensive operations. Developers should choose Flutter for applications that require more memory and CPU.

What is the most accessible framework to learn?

It depends on your previous experience with Javascript.

Flutter uses technology that hardly anyone knows is Dart. Although it is barely used, it is easy to learn. Additionally, Flutter is easy to learn as it offers straightforward documentation and plenty of free learning resources, including videos and developer articles that contain best practice information.

If you are already familiar with JavaScript, React Native is a snap. React Native is easy to access and convenient for code reuse it offers developers. In addition, just like Flutter, it offers very comprehensive documentation and videos.

Thus, for a developer with prior experience with JavaScript, React Native will be easier to learn. Otherwise, the learning curve will be pretty similar and perhaps a little more favourable for Flutter.

Which one has the best user interface?

The way Flutter and React Native handle the user interface is different.

Flutter:  An application written with Flutter behaves and looks natural on all platforms and can mimic their native components. 

  • Unique CodeBase:  It helps apps look the same on Android and iOS platforms.
  • Operating Systems:  Flutter applications look impressive on both modern and older operating systems.
  • Widgets: Flutter has two sets of widgets to conform to the designated languages: Cupertino widgets which mimic Apple’s iOS design, and Material Design widgets to implement Google’s design language.
  • Native UI:  Flutter does not use native UI views. It means that users do not get system optimization for UI views. It can lead to battery failure on mobile devices. 

React Native:  Application components are similar to native components in terms of appearance.

  • Operating Systems:  Using a third-party library can be helpful to maintain the same type of appearance between old and new versions of the operating system.
  • Native UI:  React Native uses native components in the background and ensures that your app components are upgraded immediately after UI updates. It allows users to incorporate hardware design components rather than native components.

How do Flutter and React Native handle continuous integration and delivery?

CI / CD is a delivery method for rapidly delivering applications through automation at different stages of application development. The most fundamental concepts of IC / CD include continuous delivery, continuous deployment, and continuous integration. CI / CD solves the problems that arise when integrating new codes for development projects.

CI / CD introduces continuous monitoring and automation throughout the application lifecycle, including integration, testing, delivery, and deployment. The monitoring practices are collectively referred to as the CI / CD pipeline. They are supported by development and operations professionals who collaborate under a Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) and DevOps approach.

The CI / CD is part of the official Flutter documentation, and it is beneficial for more professional and essential applications. Unfortunately, react Native documentation lacks official CI / CD support. However, it is possible to use external and unofficial sources to set up a CI / CD process.

Are there any app store publication differences?

The process is the same for Flutter and React Native. The main differences are based on the publishing process between the Apple Store and the Google Play Store. Please see post details on each store below:

App Store

The App Store requires users to pay an annual fee of $ 99 for developing and distributing their mobile products. In addition, users must participate in the Apple Developer Program to build and distribute apps on the App Store. 

Members of the Apple Developer Program have access to all modern technologies offered by the company to create engaging and cutting-edge applications. These technologies include Apple Maps, Apple Pay, HomeKit, and HealthKit. In addition, Apple provides users with all APIs and SDKs to create engaging user experiences. 

App Store users can also beta test their apps before launch. TestFlight beta testing allows users to share early product versions with their internal team members to get full feedback without delay. The Apple Developer Program allows a maximum of 25 development team members to beta test if they have an administrator or developer role in iTunes Connect. Each member can also try an app on 30 devices. Developers are now finding it very convenient to publish their products on the Apple App Store. 

Google play store

A $ 25 fee is required for a Google Publisher account. But the difference is that a user only has to pay the fee once, unlike Apple platform users who have to pay their cost every year. 

During registration, a user’s Google Publisher account is then linked to their development console. The Google Play Developer Console lets you download Android apps, create product pages, manage in-app subscriptions and purchases, and publish apps. Users can also change app distribution and promote their apps. In addition, the Developer Console offers many valuable features that make it easier to publish applications. 

Apps are delivered faster on the Google Play Store than on the Apple App Store. It is because Google Play used to rely on algorithms for analyzing applications to speed up their launch. Google now relies on a team of reviewers to review all submitted applications before going live on Google Play. Application review times are still less than 3 hours despite manual review. 

Conclusion

The abovementioned points can help developers gain valuable insight into Flutter and React Native aspects for cross-platform mobile app development. 

The main similarities of frameworks are that they are open-source, maintained by large tech companies, and accelerate the development of mobile applications through a cross-platform experience.

The fundamental differences lie in each executive’s programming language, the developers’ productivity, and how they handle the ongoing process of delivery and integration.

What is the cross-platform framework?

Cross-platform application development frameworks allow mobile applications that run on multiple operating systems like Android and iOS.

What are the similarities between Flutter and React Native?

– Both are cross

– platform frameworks – Open-Source

– Reloading

– Close to the native experience

What are the main differences between Flutter and React Native?

– Programming language

– Popularity

– Learning curve

– Architecture

– Release date

– CI / CD process

– Performance

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